Plains Rangers men played some of their best football of the season for an hour, but ended up with a gutting loss, when they travelled to play Tauranga City New Blues on Saturday.
Despite missing a number of players, Rangers were able to field a strong starting eleven. They were determined to play good passing football against the experienced, free-scoring hosts and so the game unfolded. Rangers got some fine combinations going and attacked well, while defending stoutly to nullify the talented home team strikers. Midway through the half, Hamish Wilde sent Elijah Wetting through down the right flank, and Wetting scored with a well-weighted long-range chip over the keeper. New Blues bounced straight back, and Rangers player of the day keeper Josiah Atkinson pulled off a brilliant close range save to maintain his team's lead. Rangers had marginally the upper hand for the rest of the half. Striker Phil Ballingall was causing the Tauranga defence all sorts of problems. Ten minutes before the break he forced the opposing keeper to come out and make a good save and Ben McPherson just put the rebound over the top with a shot from twenty metres. Ranger went into the break with their 1 – 0 lead, but would have to play the second half without defender Sam McPherson who had battled through most of the first half with an ankle injury.
Rangers took up where they'd left off after the interval. Two minutes in, Ballingall again forced the home defence into panic and the ball popped out to substitute Ronan Mitchell, who did well to steer the ball into the goal from outside the goal box. The game changed five minutes later. New Blues won a free kick just outside the Rangers penalty area. While Rangers were arranging their wall, the home team took the free kick quickly and it sailed unchallenged into the goal. The Rangers team protested to referee Grant Webber, but the goal was allowed. Tauranga's confidence flowed back and a hard battle ensued. After twenty minutes the home team put a header back across goal to an unmarked forward for a tap-in to level up the scores. Five minutes after that a New Blues quick throw-in opened the gaps in the Rangers defence and they scored to go ahead. Rangers pushed hard and went close through Ballingall again and in the final minute veteran substitute Barrie Hawkes couldn't beat the keeper following a good knock down from Wilde after a sweeping move. The final score: Tauranga New Blues 3, Plains Rangers 2.
Rangers will feel they didn't deserve to lose after putting in a strong effort full of good football. Player of the day Atkinson was closely followed by the whole team, with defenders Carl Imlig and Jon Barnes, Wetting, Ballingall and Wilde all outstanding. This Saturday Rangers men are at home to league leaders Taupo and should be confident of giving them a good contest. Kick off at the Edgecumbe Domain is at 2.30pm.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women were in good form against Papamoa Icons. Rangers communicated well on the pitch and passed the ball around very well, which led to Dani Howard opening the scoring after just ten minutes. Rangers dominated the first half, creating a number of scoring chances, but were unable to extend their lead.
After the break Rangers were determined to make the most of their chances. Gemma Stuckey doubled the lead when a goal kick landed at her feet and she kicked it straight back in to the goal. Many of the Rangers players got into scoring positions and were denied by the crossbar or wayward shooting, until Lily Muggeridge showed her team mates how to find the net. The final score was Papamoa Icons 0, Plains Rangers 3.
Sarah Wigzell was named player of the day for her reading of the game, and fine passing. The whole team looks ready to have a good last few weeks of the season. This Sunday Rangers women are at home to Waiariki, kick off is at 12.30pm.
Us vs Papamoa Icons, 3-0
Once upon a time in a far away land where the sun is shining brightly, the Ranger women travel to Papamoa to play the Icons.
With lots of passing and talking on the field and just look at the end result.
From all that great passing we all did that is how Dani Howard scored the first goal in the first 10 minutes.
Many attempts made in that first half for more goals we were just a little off target.
Come the second half the fire in the belly was strong and Gemma Stuckey was standing in the right spot for Papamoa goal kick, ball went straight to Gemma and Gemma just popped it straight back in the goal.
Everyone of us pretty much had a shot on goal some found the crossbar, some went over or wide, some their legs didn't keep up with them and then we had the magic touch and pass and that was when Lily Muggeridge found the net.
Great game had by everyone.
Player of the day goes to Sarah Wigzell. You had an awesome game great throw ins, great passing and nice reading of the game as well.
Keep that fire in the belly ladies for our last couple of games.
See you all at training Wednesday night.
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